Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

First Person: Scott Peacock: Food and Friendship

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

First Person: Scott Peacock: Food and Friendship

Article excerpt

My best friend and mentor, famed chef and cookbook author Edna Lewis, passed away February 13 at the ripe old age of 89. Long before we wrote a cookbook together, The Gift of Southern Cooking (Knopf, 2003), we were dubbed "the odd couple of Southern cooking." Indeed, we were pretty different on the surface--a young gay white man and an elderly African-American woman--but we were on the same wavelength creatively and philosophically. Most of all, we shared a love for traditional Southern cooking.

Miss Lewis and I met at a Southern food festival in 1989 when I was 26 and she was 73. I thought she was elegant, exotic, and self-assured. I'm not quite sure what she thought of me. Our relationship evolved slowly over the next several years: Random phone conversations and occasional visits gave way to three-day cooking marathons and cross-country trips.

Though her food was praised for decades, Miss Lewis was not a formally trained cook. She used her intuition and her senses, listening to the bubbling of a cake, for example, to tell when it was done. She had an innate ability to coax the essence out of anything, whether it be a guinea fowl, an apple, or in my case, a human being.

When we met I was taking the first tenuous steps out of the closet and was planning to move from Georgia to Italy to reinvent myself. Miss Lewis was working in New York City, but she thought a few good cooks should stay in the South. I stayed. Our friendship bloomed in earnest after she joined me in Atlanta in 1992. …

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